Mention Nintendo on any online forum and usually about half the replies are from people lambasting the hell out of the company. Every time Nintendo releases a new system angry gamers and video game journalists alike predict their downfall. The N64, Gamecube, DS, 3DS, Wii and Wii U were all, at some point, labelled terrible systems that were going to sink the company by the geek chorus.
What’s going on here? What about this mild-mannered Japanese game company makes people so damn mad? Why has there been a palpable sense for at least the past 20-years that a large portion of the gaming community just really, really wants Nintendo to fail? This Nintendo fan has a few ideas why…
Okay, even I didn’t buy this one…
Nintendo’s Burned Us All Before
Over the past three decades Nintendo has released a dozen different gaming systems (and that’s not even counting all the minor revamps to its handheld machines). If you’ve been at this gaming thing for any length of time, there’s a very good chance you’ve purchased at least one Nintendo product you just didn’t care for that much. Maybe it was the N64 with its lack of games, or the underwhelming Gamecube, or, God forbid, the Virtual Boy.
Point is, Nintendo’s been around so long, and released so many systems that they’ve simply had more opportunities to disappoint people than a company like Microsoft, which has only released two (very similar) consoles.
Nintendo Fandom’s A Religion
Often the most rigid, uncompromising atheists are people who were once pretty serious believers. When you reject something you once deeply believed in and cared about, you have to reject it completely and utterly lest you backslide. There’re no shades of grey — the world’s black-and-f–king-white.
Well, Nintendo fandom is the closest thing to a religion the gaming world has. Nintendo has it’s own deities (the trinity of Miyamoto, Iwata and Reggie) and its holy tenants of game design, and when a person rejects Nintendo, they reject it hard. Ex-Nintendo fans don’t even want to hear about a promising new game from the company lest they find themselves tempted to buy a Nintendo system again.
No! No more cake and princesses Mario! Grow up! I want adult stuff! Like blood and boobs and uh…car payments!
Nintendo Refuses To Mature With Its Fans
One of the most cited grievances against Nintendo is that “their games never change”. This isn’t really true. Take the Mario series — Mario 3 and Mario World added world maps and a ton of extra complexity, Mario 64 went 3D, and hell, you went to outer freakin’ space in Mario Galaxy.
But really, it’s usually not gameplay the critics are upset over when they say, “Nintendo doesn’t change” — it’s the stories the company tells. Nintendo see themselves as toy makers, not storytellers. They’re going to keep perfecting and refining their toys, but they’re never going to change the tales they tell. Mario will always save the princess, Link will always fight Ganon for the Triforce. This can be incredibly frustrating for long time fans.
People want Mario, Link and Samus to grow and mature along with them. A gamer who first discovered Mario when they were six in the mid-80s is now probably in their 30s with a family and real-world concerns, and yet Mario still only cares about cake and princesses. But hey, there’re still six-year-olds waiting to be introduced to Nintendo’s franchises, and much to the chagrin of long-time fans, Nintendo’s always going to side with the six-year-olds.